Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Jessie Cake for my Livvy!

So, my beautiful princess turned two this past Monday. I can hardly believe she is already 2, and can't even remember what life was like before she arrived. I feel like I've known my Olivia my whole life! She has a new love of (or obsession with) Toy Story, so I decided to use this as a theme for her birthday cake. Most of the cakes that I found were more geared towards boys, as are the Toy Story decorations, so I changed things up a bit and decided to do a Jessie theme. Admittedly, I used someone else's idea that found online and tweaked it to suit my needs and abilities. I was thrilled with how it turned out. Mom made two layers - chocolate and vanilla - and a strawberry filling to go inside. It was delicious!

One challenge for me was rolling out the fondant for a cake this big - 2 cakes for each layer. Mom, the expert baker, helped with this, and also with the braided fondant on the bottom. Can't forget Sara, who also helped with the braiding and the picture documenting! The yellow part of Jessie's shirt was also a challenge - in hindsight, I should have put it on the cake then made the necessary scallops. Either way, I love the cake, and Olivia did too!


Oh, the Places They'll Go!

This was my first year teaching AP United States History, and it was a great experience (well, check back next Tuesday when scores are in, and hopefully I'll still feel the same way!) Anyway, the first time you teach something or somewhere new and difficult, it is an opportunity to bond with students. There is this feeling that you are going through the torture together. This year certainly was one of those years, as I struggled (but managed!) to keep up with the demands of planning, studying and grading an AP course.

At the end of the year, when the exam was over, and the Seniors were ready to graduate, I decided at the last minute to make them a cake as a thank you for their being a really amazing group of kids. I wasn't sure what the theme would be - graduation themed? Abington themed? Then I settled on - a book I received for my own high school graduation, and one that I have never forgotten for its message - Dr. Seuss' Oh, The Places You'll Go! Other than its beautiful words, I liked it because I refer a lot to his political cartoons during the course of the year, and typically show The Butter Battle Book when I teach the Cold War.

The most difficult part of the cake were the stripes. I hadn't tried these before. I have a Wilton tool for making stripes, ribbons and doing embossing so I put it to use for the first time. I need to remember to do the most difficult tasks first - I tend to get tired out at the end and get sloppy. Working full time, writing a thesis and having a 2 year old will do this to you I guess!

I was so happy with the cake (even though the letters on the sign could have been better!) and the kids loved it. One of the biggest compliments I've received in my career came from a student in this class who wrote me a note saying that she thinks it's great that I love what I do so much. I'm glad that my passion and enthusiasm comes across to my students. I should share my love of cakes earlier in the year, and perhaps they'll see I love more than just teaching History!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

A Cake for Baby Emily!

I was thrilled to get to make a cake this weekend for Baby Emily! My cousin, Chrissy, is due next month and this weekend she had a small shower for her friends. Last weekend, I made gumpaste flowers (thanks, Mom and Jen for your help!). I chose colors that match Emily's nursery. My first experiment with gumpaste did not go as planned, but these videos really helped!

Last night, I decorated the cake, using Wilton's Ivory coloring for the fondant. I used Leaf Green, Pink Rose and Brown for the polka dots. I absolutely love the little Wilton sugar pearls that I bought a while back. They give such a cute accent to the cake!

The baby booties were a last minute addition, but I really liked how they turned out!

As a side note, someone at the party has actually had a cake from Carlo's Bakery and said that she liked the Wilton fondant better than his! I thought that was interesting. I wonder how they make theirs...

Can't wait for Baby Emily to arrive!!!

Friday, February 11, 2011

A special 21st birthday!

So, this post is a little late, but regardless, here it is. My little sis turned 21 in November - talk about feeling old! As kind of a last minute idea, I decided to do a Sex & the City cake for her.

It was my first attempt at making a shoe. I used gum paste instead of fondant, and noticed a real difference in that it has better hardening capabilities. I found a great shoe template here.

For the New York theme, I did a skyline around the outside. I need to improve on my fondant skills as far as covering the cake is concerned, but I think a thinner layer of icing on the cake should solve that problem the next time around. Here is the finished product!

Monday, June 21, 2010

A Ladybug for my Livvybug

My Olivia is turning one this coming Saturday. For her big day, I decided to do a ladybug. In the future, I should allow myself more than three hours to do something like this! Mom baked the cakes for me on Friday night, and I decorated Saturday morning. This was two batches of buttercream (one pink, one chocolate), which is something I haven't attempted, and proved to be alot of work. Luckily, I had pre-colored black Wilton fondant, so that was one less color to make! Honestly, I find dying the fondant for
details to be easy and relatively quick. The flowers looked nice; I curved the edges of that top layer. One thing I would love to get it is the Cricut Cake, which does amazing looking flowers with these icing sheets - anyone use one before? I also used the steamer to finish this cake off, which I've seen on Cake Boss - SO COOL! it was so easy and really gives the cake the perfect finishing touch, and gets rid of imperfections (ie. that pesky confectioners' sugar that gets all over the fondant while you're rolling it!)

One thing I will remember for next time is my icing spreader, because the buttercream was not nearly as smooth and I would have liked it to be. Overall, I was happy with how the ladybug turned out! I'd probaby give her some eyelids next time (threw away the excess black fondant before I thought of it!) I should have gotten a better picture of Olivia with the cake, but with all the confusion of the day, and her having her own "smash cake," I completely forgot! DOH!

Friday, February 26, 2010

My first cake... finished!

So, dad's Birthday party was a success - the man who you can usually get nothing by was actually surprised!

The cake was an adventure. Mom baked both layers for me since baking isn't my thing. I convinced her to make a chocolate ganache filling, since we weren't icing it with chocolate icing, like dad wanted. I took one taste of the ganache and knew she had added a secret ingredient - RUM! Needless to say, Mommom's chocolate cake recipe, and mom's ganache made for one heck of a cake.

I abandoned my initial green cake with golf balls idea when I realized that I needed to stick with a color scheme. After debating colors all week, I settled on a tan color fondant to cover the whole cake, with a maroon, yellow and brown argyle print. Overall, I was happy with the final product.

A few things that I learned:
Do NOT use pre-made decorator icing; making my own would have definitely made for easier piping!!

After molding the cereal treats, carve them out for cleaner lines.

Try the steamer for finishing off the cake - I meant to do this once I got it to my parents' house, but completely forgot!

Happy 60th Birthday, Dad!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Fun with fondant...

Tonight, my parents and my sister, Jen, were over for dinner, so I decided to experiment. Mom is the expert baker, and Jen was the "helper" (her words!), so we played with fondant. I dyed the fondant Wilton's Leaf Green, which will be the color of dad's cake. Think two tiers, the color of a golf course with golf balls decorating the sides and the figure of him on top.

Fondant always seems to go much further than I think it will. I had plenty for the 9" cake. In the words of Buddy, I "dirty iced" it with some buttercream icing that I quickly whipped up. I really iced the cake too prematurely, and the icing melted a little. This made for bumps under the fondant. Overall, it wasn't too bad! I was for some reason expecting a nightmare, trying to fit the fondant over a circular object. Here are some pictures. I was really just messing around with some shapes and letters, so pardon the awful decorating. Also, forgive us for digging in before getting a proper picture!

P.S. - we missed you, Laur!